Out of the Mouths of Babes
Kindergarten dental screenings are one of our lesser-known programs. We link volunteer dentists with whole classrooms of kindergarteners. They visit the class and do a visual dental screening to check to see if any of the little ones need dental care. During one of these visits, Marcus, a curly haired little guy with a big smile proudly announced, “I am going to the dentist tomorrow.”
“Oh, do you know the name of your dentist?” asked Dr. Lucas.
“Oh yes, Dr. Cavity,” he said confidently.
Without missing a beat, the dentist replied, “Oh yes, I know Dr. Cavity, he is an excellent dentist.” To which Marcus answered, “It is a she.”
“Oh yes, that Dr. Cavity” said Dr. Lucas, and our Program Manager jumped in with, “I am familiar with her work.”
The giggles continued for the rest of the afternoon. The magic of connecting with children is one of the very best things about Young & Healthy.
Happy summer and we hope you get to giggle with a kiddo—it is just the best.
If There’s a Will, There’s a Way
Imagine you are a 17-year old girl with mental health issues and being told you cannot receive the immediate care that you need simply because you don’t have a parent or legal guardian. Tamara was having suicidal ideation and was referred to us by a social worker at PUSD. She needed help immediately. Our insurance outreach specialist discovered that MediCal could provide the help she needed by using a special enrollment that took effect in January of 2022. This new enrollment enables 17 year olds to secure mental health services without having parent or guardian notification or approval.
Tamara is now receiving the life saving care she needs and deserves and her new insurance will provide her care for the next year. We wish Tamara all the best on her journey to health.
Speaking Up for Yourself
Learning to advocate for oneself takes time and practice. One high school student knew she needed to have dental treatment and called Young & Healthy so our case worker could explain to her mom that services would be free, and the parents would not be charged for any services rendered. This young woman found her voice and made sure to use it. She participated in and received overdue dental treatment and by advocating for herself, she helped her parents learn that there is help in the community. We take pride in being a safety net for families, and as a health advocacy non-profit, we’re also in the business of empowering individuals to advocate for themselves and help families learn about advocacy through us.
Changing Lives One Smile at a Time
Safety is an integral part of Young & Healthy’s Mobile Dental Clinic. While the dentists do the heavy lifting, the Y & H staff and volunteers make sure that students make it to the clinic and back to class safely. One junior high student showed up to her appointments on time but would not say a word. She rushed back to class so quickly that it was hard for the staffer to keep up with her. She set the tone by having her guard up and choosing not to interact with staff. Being a Young & Healthy trauma informed employee has its perks and helped the staffer make conscious choices on how to interact with her. The staffer gave the student her space and explained that they knew she was more than capable of walking herself back to class but that her safe return to class was part of the success in putting the clinic together. The student listened but did not respond. On the last day of the Mobile Dental Clinic, this young lady was a different person. She was happy and engaged in small talk, asking if we would be back and wanting to know more about the services we provide. When asked about her experience in the clinic, she said “Today they fixed my front teeth, one was chipped, and another had a stain.” The pinnacle moment in her first Mobile Dental Clinic experience was this last day. Her experience will leave a timeless impact on her self-image. It changed how she walked, how she talked, and most importantly how she felt. By not passing judgement and treating her with respect we saw her become fully herself once the reason for her self-consciousness was erased. Just another way that Young & Healthy is impacting lives for the better.
Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover
Young & Healthy has spent the last several years teaching the community about ACEs – Adverse Childhood Experiences, and how these very stressful events in childhood can affect our brains and bodies in dramatic ways. Exposure to child abuse, substance abuse, family violence, just to name a few, alter the way we learn, emote and process stress. Sometimes I think we make assumptions about what someone with a high ACE score might look like – bedraggled, angry, uncooperative. Sometimes we would be right, but lots of times, we’d be wrong.
People are very good at hiding their pain. Sofia, a sweet, nicely dressed (ironed jeans & ironed t-shirt) young woman, arrived at our office with her adorable little boy. He was shy, hiding behind his mom, with a mop of curls that made you want to reach over and tousle them. Talking with Sofia, I learned that she was here to get help with her taxes. She said the DV shelter had sent her. Young & Healthy is more than happy to help them with their taxes or anything else they need. I made cheery conversation and got the little guy a teddy bear. I was smiling and hopefully helpful, but my heart was breaking.
When she said a DV shelter sent her, short for Domestic Violence, my heart sank and a lump appeared in my throat. Racing through my mind were all the statistics I knew – it takes an average of 18 attempts before a woman successfully escapes a violent partner and they are in escalating danger with each attempt to leave. I also knew with devastating clarity the damage domestic violence was doing to this darling little boy and his still growing brain,
And yet, here they were, safe in a shelter getting necessary help and resources. And here we were, able to deliver some of those resources. These moments are reminders to us all, you never really know what burdens people carry. You just can’t tell by outward appearances.
But what we do know is that kindness and compassion go a long way.
It is a gift we all have to give.